The Persian pashm, meaning ‘soft’ is the indigenous word for cashmere wool. Light as air, warm as toast, it folds to almost nothing.
Right now the word is used popularly in reference to woven cashmere scarves, which may be pure, or mixed with silk or other fine wools to increase the body and drape.
Pashmina makes into wonderful, luxuriously soft and drapey furnishings, but it can be too light and on the costly side in it’s pure form, and so, we mostly use mixed fabrics. Or scarves and stoles which can be neatly joined to make bed drapes, bedroom curtains, cushions, bedcovers and throws, and for light upholstery.
From Jenny Housego of the Kashmir Loom :
Pashmina is a wonderful, soft wool combed by hand from the changra goat. They are reared in herds at over 14,000 ft in the arid, high altitude plateaux of Ladakh and Tibet, as also in Mongolia. It is also known as cashmere, the old spelling of the name of the region. It could only be spun and woven in Kashmir–no other part of the world has the appropriate skills to do this–and thus, although the wool itself does not come from Kashmir, this alternative name has also stuck. Foreign buyers now want only cashmere, as though it was totally different and not tainted by the word pashmina. Few know that these are in fact the same! A gossamer fine pashmina yarn can only be spun by hand. In other places, where there is only mechanical spinning, it has to be mixed, with silk, wool or a synthetic yarn that can be carbonized after weaving. It is thus never the same.